Washington (October 15)— Today, Moya Design Partners (MOYA) joins with the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) to host our first Art After Dark event, “Transitions”—showcasing the artwork of local hospitality executive and artist Hector J. Torres. Art After Dark is an annual evening event to engage the community, support local artists, celebrate diversity in art, and raise funds for housing solutions for DC individuals experiencing homelessness.
“I am excited to introduce Art After Dark today, where our city can come together to celebrate great art, support local artists, and raise funds for DC’s homeless population,” said Paola Moya, CEO of Moya Design Partners. “This event showcases diversity in art, which is important to me as a Colombian American and the owner of a diverse DC design studio. It’s an honor to spotlight Torres’ work tonight.”
The focus of the event is a diverse selection of art by Hector J. Torres, which will be displayed at the BID’s office and available for purchase. We caught up with Torres in his DC studio for an exclusive interview!
Hector, you’ve always been passionate about art. Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow the artist’s path?
I have always continued working, however limited as it was. A good portion of my work was donated to multiple nonprofit and charitable organizations which I felt were impacting in a positive way our community; however, when we sold our hotels and company, I saw an opportunity to immerse myself more deeply into creating works that have hovered in my mind for years.
Your work is known for celebrating traditional painting techniques. Do you use digital technology in your paintings?
Some of my works could be created on a computer, but I like to see the hand of the artist rather than a mechanical process. I’m a traditionalist. If I’m accused of being old fashioned, then I am okay with that! I never create artwork that uses the computer. Perhaps this is a reflection of my own inability to conceptualize without the traditional tools or my reticent attitude toward computers. I do, however, greatly admire those who can visualize and create in this medium.
Who are your biggest influences?
Having been a teacher, I have developed a full perspective on my favorite artists, simply because there are so many, primarily because they inform my work in one way or the other. To name a few: Paul Klee, Motherwell, Gottlieb, Picasso, Stuart Davis, Louise Nevelson, Juan Gris, Joseph Cornell. Each—for different reasons—served me in teaching and developing what I call my ‘schizophrenic’ style, which is multi-stylistic.
We saw some images of your DC studio. There are a lot of paintings on the easels at once! Could you describe your typical workflow and workday?
I often work on up to 30 pieces simultaneously, none of which look alike. They are spontaneous, impulsive, and in many cases contrived and restrictive. Sometimes, I develop a theme such as my “Elements” series while also working on dissimilar pieces. I find them to be counterintuitive, and many simply evolve. Some pieces will rest for months before I return to them, while changing them totally as if serendipitously. I love visiting galleries and museums. They are a source of constant inspiration.
“Transitions” has a number of different themes. Tell us about your subject matter.
I rarely venture into political or social commentary in my art; however, I have been struck by the plight of immigrants who come to our country for safety, a better life, and to share in and contribute to the blessings we too often take for granted, only to find themselves living in constant anxiety and fear due to our current political climate. This inspired my “In the Shadows” piece. “In the Shadows” is one of my most personal pieces. It’s a monochromatic rendition with blue undertones, not a pretty piece, but one that I hope evokes the feeling. As you will note, however, the figures embrace each other, symbolic of the familiar ties that are the source of strength to the Latino and all immigrant communities. This piece was months of work and a catharsis. When finished, I was so relieved, as it caused much anxiety in the process. While American by birthright, I too am proudly an emigrant and very proud of my dual heritage.
Describe your work with the DC Hispanic arts community.
I am a staunch supporter of GALA Theatre for its work in sustaining and putting historic context to our cultural heritage. For years, I have been honored in so many ways, from set design to a seat at the board, finding ways to keep Live and thriving an institution that is unique and in need of support.
I am also a board member of The Carlos Rosario Internacional Charter School for their work in the adult emigrant community, providing a way, through education and linguistic capacity—an opportunity to improve their social and economic conditions, and in so many cases a path to citizenship.
Tell us more about Jonathan Acosta, the musician you chose to play at the “Transitions” Art After Dark event. How did you come to choose Jonathan?
Jonathan is an animated performer who is very active in the DC Venezuelan community. He was the first person I thought of to perform at the “Transitions” Art After Dark Event. Jonathan is a violinist and cuatro player who is active at the GALA Theatre. More importantly, his music is energized, colorful and can inspire an audience to dance or reflect. He has a great voice!
What can we expect from Hector J. Torres in the future?
I presently have multiple projects in the works, approximately 15 three-dimensional multimedia and found objects, wall pieces that are awaiting development/completion and about 30 canvases that are a clean slate for further experimentation. I am also hoping to, from time to time, get in front of a classroom to guest teach—one of my greatest passions.